British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 1


Examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL.

1. The Solicitor-General: This witness, my Lord, proves the dimensions. (To the witness.) You are the assistant superintending engineer to the Cunard Line?
- I am the superintending engineer.

2. What was the tonnage of the "Lusitania"?
- The gross tonnage was 30,395 tons; the net tonnage 12,611 tons.

3. By whom was she built?
- John Brown & Co., Clydebank.

4. And she was registered as a British steamship at the port of Liverpool?
- That is so.

5. With the official number of 124,082?
- Yes, that is right.

6. Will you describe the propelling machinery. Tell me generally what the propelling machinery was?
- The main propelling machinery consisted of two high pressure ahead turbines, two low pressure ahead, and two astern turbines, driving four lines of main shafting. The two outer lines of shafting were each driven by a high pressure ahead turbine. The two inner lines of shafting were each driven by a low pressure ahead turbine. Forward of each low pressure ahead turbine and on the same line of shafting was an astern turbine, so that when going astern only the inner shafts were driving the ship. Steam was supplied by 23 double ended boilers and two single ended boilers, arranged for a working pressure of 195 lbs. per square inch.

6a. I want you now to give a general description, which I think you have prepared, of the dimensions of the vessel. What was her length over all?
- The length over all was 785 feet.

7. And between perpendiculars?
- 760 feet.

8. And the extreme breadth?
- 88 feet.

9. The depth?
- 60 feet 4½ inches.

10. What was her draught?
- 36 feet

11. Her displacement?
- 41,440 tons.

12. The accommodation for first class passengers?
- I do not appear to have that.

13. I am putting it from your statement: First class passengers, 552; second class, 460; and third class, 1,186. Would that be right?
- I have not the figures.

14. The Commissioner: Do not you know how many first, second and third class passengers this boat was licensed to carry?
- Yes, but unfortunately I cannot pick it up in my notes.

The Attorney-General:
It is in the Certificate.

14. The Solicitor-General: What was the type of engine?
- Turbine driven.

15. Do you recollect the number of furnaces?
- The number of furnaces was 192.

16. What was the steam pressure?
- 195 lbs.

17. The total heating surface?
- 158,350 square feet.

18. The draught?
- 36 feet.

19. And the total indicated horse-power as designed?
- 68,000.

19a. The speed?
- 25 knots.

20. She was classed 100 A1 at Lloyds, and the hull and machinery were built under special survey?
- That is so.

21. What was the structure of the vessel?
- The vessel was built throughout of steel and had a cellular double bottom of the usual type, with a floor at every frame, its depth at the centre line being 60 inches, except in the way of turbine machinery, where it was 72 inches. This double bottom extended up the ship's side to a height of 8 feet above the keel. Above the double bottom the vessel was constructed on the usual transverse frame system, reinforced by web frames, which extended to the highest decks. At the forward end the framing and plating was strengthened with a view to preventing panting, and damage when meeting ice. Beams were fitted on every frame at all decks from the boat deck downwards. An external bilge keel about 300 feet long and 30 inches deep was fitted along the bilge amidships. The heavy plating was carried up to the shelter deck. Between the shelter deck and below the upper deck a depth of 14 feet 6 inches was double plated and hydraulic rivetted. The stringer plate of the shelter deck was also doubled. All decks were steel plated throughout, The transverse strength of the ship was in part dependent on the 12 transverse watertight bulkheads which were specially strengthened and stiffened to enable them to stand the necessary pressure in the event of accident, and they were connected by double angles to decks, inner bottom and shell plating.

The Commissioner:
What point, Mr. Solicitor, does all this go to?

The Solicitor-General:
I thought the Court would desire to know what the construction of the vessel was at some time or other in the Inquiry.

The Commissioner:
But all these details produce no impression on my mind. We have other and much more important matters to enquire into.

The Solicitor-General:
My Lord, that may be so, but at the same time surely it would be necessary, even if there were more important matters, that the Court should be informed of these things?

The Commissioner:
Is there to be any suggestion that this ship was not seaworthy?

The Solicitor-General:
Until we know what suggestions are made in the course of the Inquiry, it is a little difficult to tell.

The Commissioner:
Have you any reason to believe that there will be any such suggestions?

The Solicitor-General:
No, my Lord. I have no reason to believe anything. As to what will he suggested, I do not know.

The Commissioner:
If I might suggest it, I think you had better defer all these details until you do hear something in the nature of a suggestion.

The Solicitor-General:
If your Lordship pleases. Then that disposes of the whole of the evidence of this witness, except that I should like to put in the plans.

The Commissioner:
What are these drawings I see?

22. The Solicitor-General: They represent various sections of the " Lusitania." Those are the boiler rooms; the other one is what is called a profile plan. (To the witness): Do you produce the plans of the vessel?
- That is so.

23. Have you them in Court?
- I have.

The Solicitor-General:
I put in the certified copy of the official register. (Handing in the same.)

(The witness withdrew.)